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Morning Coffee: The curious European bank U.S. MDs are busting to work for. Words 20-something bankers must never say

Rothschild, one of largest M&A houses in Europe, hasn't really broken into the U.S. However, now it wants to double its market share of revenues and its headcount there.

Rothschild has typically been among the top M&A advisers in Europe by deal value, but has struggled to crack the top 10 for U.S. deals. To change that, Rothschild hired Jimmy Neissa, the ex-global co-head of investment banking at UBS, to run the North American advisory business, who in turn has hired 12 new managing directors. These MDs cover technology, industrials and healthcare banking in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco and Toronto, according to Financial News.

Neissa told FN that he has an “inch-and-change”-thick stack of CVs from managing directors on his desk, waiting to be read.

One strange perk that Rothschild offers them, as if from another era: Butlers wait on senior bankers and clients in the executive dining rooms and at events hosted by the firm.

Rothschild’s U.S. business currently generates only about 20% of its global revenues, but as it expands in North America, senior managers hope it too can lure talent away from the big investment banks like boutiques PJT Partners, Moelis, Centerview, Evercore and Lazard have done.

Rothschild has already hired Lee LeBrun away from UBS to be the head of M&A for North America and Chris Gaertner from Credit Suisse to be the global head of technology, based in San Francisco. By next month, Rothschild will have 36 MDs, bringing its total North American workforce up to 158 healthcare, technology and industrials bankers.

Neissa wants to hire at least three more MDs soon, and he is also recruiting junior bankers, but not just from the Ivy League. He has changed about half of the U.S. schools the bank has traditionally recruited from, and he is the firm’s recruiting captain for the University of Texas, his alma mater.

Separately, meet Alan Mulligan, the highly paid banker in Dublin who quit it all to make films.

Mulligan had been due to go to America with his now ex-girlfriend – but instead spent the €5k ($5,700) he’d set aside for the trip on movie-making equipment. He found a film editor to tutor him and made a couple of short films, spending every spare moment learning new filming skills and networking.

His boss at the bank heard about his plans through the grapevine and tried to talk him out of it, even dangling a raise. It was then that he said the words that no banker should ever say to his boss: “He was like ‘you're on good money now but do you not want to earn more?’ and I said ‘not really, I'm happy with what I have,’ and that was a bizarre answer to him because the idea of not being motivated by money was alien. That is literally all they have to keep you going,” Mulligan told the Irish Independent.

“He told me ‘I feel like you sit in the meetings and look at us like we’re robots’ – and I hadn’t thought about it like that, but he was probably right.”

Mulligan knew he was ready to leave banking for good, but he feared how the news of his decision would be received at home, especially since his mom had recently passed away. His dad was shocked but supportive and, a weight lifted from his shoulders, he promptly quit his lucrative job.

Mulligan's film “The Limit of...” – which he made on a shoestring budget – is semi-autobiographical, as the plot centers on a young financier who loses his soul during the boom.


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Photo credit: SurkovDimitri/GettyImages

AUTHORDan Butcher US Editor

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